REVIEW: 9 to 5 The Musical (Savoy Theatre) ★★★★

The infamous song ‘9 to 5‘ is part of the remarkable career of the beloved Dolly Parton, country superstar and household name. Fans of the original film have delighted at the opportunity to see the classic story of three, but this particular run includes two very special guests Bonnie Langford and David Hasselhoff.

We are greeted by a video of Dolly herself, welcoming us to the show and introducing the main ladies of the evening. If you aren’t familiar with the story: three very different women, diverse in personality, goals and backgrounds, are working for a successful firm in LA and attempting to navigate the landscape of sexism, judgement and stifled dreams. At the helm of these troubles is their abhorrent boss, Franklin Hart (Hasselhoff), a man who wouldn’t know what boundaries were if one smacked him in the face.

This production has the ‘WOW’ factor, due to its visual splendour and the fact that it is based in the Savoy Theatre. It’s reasonably rare in the West End to find yourself seated in a theatre that is spacious, well-lit and comfortable, which is a shame as this contributes enormously to the enjoyment of a show. The set is very modern, with a playful technology-based theme and an ever-changing backdrop of glossy city images and well-executed set changes. The costumes are divine, chosen specifically to reflect the fashions of the time and the trio’s differing styles. Everthing about it screams ‘GLAM’, which is how you know that it’s got the Dolly input.

Natalie McQueen is our Doralee, the ultra-glamorous country girl whose vitality and sexuality is a cause of gossip and mistrust in the office. McQueen is outrageously talented, with an eye-popping, truly mesmerising voice that fills the theatre from floor to ceiling with ease. Similarly, Caroline Sheen is a fantastic leading lady as Violet, convincingly portraying the hardworking and overstretched woman who’s been living in the shadows of her male colleagues for years. A skilled all-round performer, she commands the stage for the duration of the show as our Suffragette-esque lady of ambition. Chelsea Halfpenny charts the biggest development, transforming the unconfident, heartbroken character of Judy into the focused, independent woman we see before us by the end of the show. She performs Judy’s solos with elegance and ease, and has a great aptitude for comedy.

Bonnie Langford can do no wrong – she brings joy and vibrancy to absolutely every role she inhabits. She is one of the highlights as the dark horse that is Roz, making the audience cackle with laughter as she pulls herself out of the office plant and performs fantastic feats of dance in lingerie. Langford is the kind of talent you want to follow around the West End, as you know that everything she does is good.

David Hasselhoff is the guy everyone wants to hug. We won’t pretend that he’s the most flawless vocalist or fluid dancer, and we’ll forgive the fact that he nearly dropped Bonnie Langford on her head (thankfully she saved herself), but he is an undeniable charmer who nevertheless commands the stage. Watching him suspended from the ceiling in a very…questionable…outfit is now definitely one of my theatrical highlights. He is the perfect candidate for the role of Franklin, throwing himself wholeheartedly into the role, and has a noticeably strong rapport with the ladies he shares the stage with, as if he’s been working with them for years.

An extremely funny, heart-warming, energetic show that will have you smiling throughout. This is a production that can please every kind of crowd – the hen nights, the Daughter/Mum/Grandma evenings out, the work socials – the boys will enjoy it just as much as the girls. It’s difficult not to sing along and you’ll be itching to get up and dance. If you want to walk out of a production feeling uplifted, this is the one for you.

Reviewed by Laura Evans
Photo: Pamela Raith

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